The by-elections to the Chamundeshwari constituency are just a couple of days away. And now is as good a time as any to ask a simple question: Have English language journalists completely lost the art of painting a picture?
Make no mistake, dozens of journalists are doing a thankless job of bringing the elections to their readers. The interviews, the profiles, the controversies, and the daily “routines” are all coming through fine.
But let’s not confuse quantity for quality. Because, at the end of the day, much of all this is he-said, she-said stuff.
Certainly, this is bread and butter stuff for newspapers. But the questions we in journalism should be asking ourselves is: is the lay reader, who has probably seen the television news last night, really waking up in the morning to re-read some more of what he had heard/seen?
More pertinently, is this all that we can produce these days?
He said, she said.
One suspects that the scenario is no different in the Kannada newspapers but that is no justification for the anodyne, colourless reportage we have seen in the last fortnight. Indian elections produce have often provided some of the most scintillating reporting.
M J Akbar, Chandan Mitra, Sankarshan Thakur, Tarun Tejpal et al, have produced riveting reportage.
Why can’t we? Don’t we have that kind of wordsmiths any longer? Or don’t we have the fire in the belly? Or, worse, don’t we just care?